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College Athletes Paid; Trump's Uphill Fight for Re-Election; Biden Delivers Speech on Race; Gay Couple Sues State Department Over Citizenship. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 16, 2019 - 08:30   ET



RAMOGI HUMA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL COLLEGE PLAYERS ASSOCIATION: Only male athletes, some of the male athletes for college basketball to have sports agents and denies every female athlete the same right. We can't follow the NCAA. The NCAA has shown it's been a bad actor with players. That's a walking Title Nine violation in itself. So the state of California should absolutely be taking the lead on this.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And let me just throw out the other argument that you will hear, and we've heard for generations, this is just not the way it's supposed to be. This is not amateur athletics.

And Tim Tebow, who played college football and is now a commentator on TV, he had this to say about that over the weekend.


TIM TEBOW, FORMER NFL/COLLEGE ATHLETE: We live in a selfish culture where it's all about us, but we're just adding and piling it on to them. Where it changes what's special about college football, we turn it into the NFL where who has the most money, that's where you go.


BERMAN: How do you respond to Tebow?

HUMA: Well, first, I have a lot of respect for Tim Tebow but couldn't disagree with him more on this issue. If you look at colleges, colleges are set up in order for regular students to set themselves up economically. They're all searching for economic prosperity. And to have a double standard where you say college athletes shouldn't do the same, it really doesn't hold water. I think -- I'm hoping Tim changes his mind on this. But, at the end of the day, thankfully, Tim is not the governor or a lawmaker that's going to vote on this.

But I do think that there should not be a double standard for college athletes. Everyone in America should have every right, every economic liberty afforded to every citizen in America.

BERMAN: All right, Ramogi Huma, I have to say, thank you so much for coming in and having this discussion. It's a lot more complicated than I think people realize and it raises a whole bunch of side issues that we had a chance to talk about this morning, and it's something people really ought to think about and think about hard.

Ramogi Huma, thank you very much.

HUMA: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: All right, so President Trump has good reason to doubt many of the national polls coming out his way. After all, most polls showed his 2016 victory a long shot. But dig deeper into the numbers and there are real alarm bells the president would be unwise to ignore.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: John Avlon joining us now with today's "Reality Check."

Good morning.


So President Trump's been hate tweeting a lot lately about polls, calling them all fake news, which means they're probably not looking too good for him. But that's despite a CNN poll from June that found a majority of Americans think Trump will win re-election. And there's a lot of confidence coming from the White House. They point to the power of incumbency, a huge money advantage and, at least to date, a strong economy.

But go back to the data and you'll see that there's real reason for Trump to be nervous.

First, he's the only president in the history of the Gallup poll never to hit 50 percent approval. And that's despite the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 50 years. That's not all. A new CNN poll shows that a stunning six in ten voters say that Trump doesn't deserve a second term, with a dismal 39 percent approval rating.

Dig a little deeper and you'll also see a stark enthusiasm gap. A recent "Washington Post"/ABC poll found that only 27 percent of folks strongly approve of Trump's performance, while 48 percent strongly disapprove. Another summer poll found that 53 percent of registered voters say they would definitely vote against him.

But we should all know that national numbers don't mean a whole lot, right? So let's look at Trump's approval rating in key swing states. Florida, Trump's got a 44 percent approval rating, despite 54 percent of folks saying they're financially better off than they were in 2016.

All right, how about Pennsylvania? Only 42 percent of keystone state voters say Trump is doing a good job. Michigan, where Trump won just by 10,000 votes, Trump's approval rating is down to 44 percent with 56 percent disapproving. That's from the midterm exit polls.

How about Wisconsin, where a September poll showed that Trump at 45 percent. And Trump's also under water in states he easily won, like Ohio, where only 43 percent of voters approve of the job he's doing. North Carolina, where the most recent Gallup numbers put Trump at 45 percent. He's also at 45 percent in Iowa, a state which he won by almost ten points. He's even under water in Texas at 45 percent. But a poll last week showing that 48 percent of lone star voters say they'd definitely vote against him.

And, yes, polls are just snapshots in time, but these trends are definitely not Donald Trump's friends. No wonder the president keeps insisting that internal polling looks great, best ever. But there is, of course, still plenty of time for Democrats to screw this up. Polls show that Trump's strongest re-election argument is to run against a social in which Trump wins by a six-point spread. And that explains why Republicans are trying to label Democrats as radical socialists and why folks on the far left could be doing some of Trump's work for him.

It might also explain why Joe Biden has the biggest lead over Trump in head-to-head matchups, Florida, 9 points. Pennsylvania, 11 points. Wisconsin, 9. Even Ohio, 8 points. Other Democrats often beat Trump in states like this, particularly Sanders and Warren, but they do so by consistently smaller margins.

Look, we're still more than 13 months out from election day, but right now the numbers show that President Trump is in an objective and possibly unprecedented position of weakness.

And that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: Now, you don't like the polls, John, when they consistently show bad things for you. I think that's a fair statement.

AVLON: Doesn't make them fake though.

BERMAN: No. All right, appreciate it.

HILL: Former Vice President Joe Biden giving an impassioned speech on race and the rise of hate in America. How black voters are helping to boost the Democratic frontrunner, next.



BERMAN: All right, a lot of talk this morning about a speech from former Vice President Joe Biden. An emotional address about hate at an anniversary memorial for the 1963 Birmingham church bombing. It comes as the 2020 Democratic frontrunner is under new scrutiny for his past record and more recent statements on racial issues.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is live in South Carolina this morning, where Biden and others are stumping today.

This was a really interesting address, Arlette.



It was a powerful speech. The former vice president, Joe Biden, warning and talking about forces of hatred that still exist in this country decades after that church bombing killed four young girls. And trips to states like Alabama and here in South Carolina are all part of Biden's push to court the black vote. That's going to be a key component for any Democrat seeking the nomination and right now black voters make up a key component of Biden's support.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hate is on the rise again, and we're at a defining moment again in American history.

SAENZ (voice over): Joe Biden, at the pulpit of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, 56 years after a bombing by the KKK killed four young girls.

BIDEN: Their murders lay bare the lie that a child could be free in America while oppressions long shadow darkened our cities and ruled our countryside.

SAENZ: The former vice president drawing a direct line between that attack and modern day hate-filled massacres, like the shootings in El Paso and Charleston.

BIDEN: This violence does not live in the past. We have not relegated racism and white supremacy to the pages of history.

SAENZ: Biden's trip to the Super Tuesday state of Alabama comes as he's courting the black vote, which is critical in the path to the Democratic nomination. Nearly five months after entering the 2020 race, Biden is still leading the Democratic field, fueled largely by his consistent support from black voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mind's been made up pretty much from the beginning.

SAENZ (on camera): And who's that?


SAENZ (voice over): A recent CNN poll found 42 percent of Democratic black voters back Biden.

BIDEN: I watched my buddy Barack stand up there.

SAENZ: For many black voters, Biden's service alongside President Obama is a strong credential.

JAMES SCOTT, BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA: The first black president was President Obama, and he was -- he chose him. President Obama chose him for a reason.

SAENZ: But for some considering Biden in 2020, those issues aren't impacting their decision just yet.

KAT BROWN, ATLANTA, GEORGIA: While I think Vice President Biden is an amazing public servant, I don't think that that should make him the automatic Democratic nominee. SAENZ: Biden's history with race-related issues has come under

scrutiny in the 2020 race, from his opposition to school bussing, to his role in crafting the 1994 crime bill.

This answer at last week's debate after he was asked about the legacy of slavery drawing some criticism.

BIDEN: We bring social workers into homes with parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It's not that they don't want to help. They don't want -- they don't know quite what to do.

SAENZ: But for some considering Biden in 2020, those issues aren't impacting their support just yet.

MARILYN CALDWELL, WALNUT, CALIFORNIA: He's -- make you feel like he knows you. And we know he really can't, but he makes you feel good.

LASHUNDA SCALES, COMMISSIONER, JEFFERSON COUNTY, ALABAMA: I'm like everyone else, we're looking. He will probably be one of the more stronger candidates that could take on the Trump administration and actually win. We're interested in winning, not just running.


SAENZ: Now, here in South Carolina, black voters make up 61 percent of the Democratic primary electorate. And Joe Biden has been building relationships in this state for decades. The question going forward is, can he turn those relationships with black voters into actual support at the ballot box?


BERMAN: So far with the polls the answer is yes. The question is, how long can or will that last?

Arlette Saenz, terrific reporting. Thanks very much.

Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

Number one, President Trump hosts Bahrain's crown prince at the White House today. They're expected to discuss Iran, security in the Persian Gulf and counterterrorism.

HILL: Later this afternoon, President Trump will honor New York Yankees great Mariano Rivera with the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Rivera was the first player unanimously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame for his 19-year career with the Yankees.

BERMAN: Purdue Pharma, the drug maker that made billions selling the prescription painkiller OxyContin is filing for bankruptcy. It is part of the framework to settle thousands of opioid-related lawsuits by state and local and tribal governments.

HILL: Humberto now strengthening to a category one hurricane. Luckily it is forecast to turn away from the U.S. mainland. If it stays on track, though, it could threaten Bermuda by midweek. The Bahamas, which are, of course, recovering from Dorian's devastation, were actually spared the worst of Humberto over the weekend.

BERMAN: Ric Ocasek, founder and front man of The Cars, died Sunday in his New York apartment. The Cars had a string of hits in the last '70s and '80s, including "My Best Friend's Girl" and "Drive." They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. Ric Ocasek was 75. The cause of his death has not been released. One of the great Boston bands.

HILL: That's right.

For more on the "Five Things to Know," just go to for the latest.


Just ahead, a same-sex couple is suing the Trump administration after their daughter was denied birthright citizenship. We'll speak with them about their fight with the State Department.


HILL: A gay married couple is suing the State Department after their newborn daughter was denied U.S. citizenship because she was born using a surrogate in Canada. Roee and Adiel Kiviti are both naturalized U.S. citizens. They say their daughter, Kessem, was denied birthright citizenship, though, under a State Department policy that considers her to be, quote, born out of wedlock.

CNN did reach out to the State Department. An official told CNN they do not comment on pending litigation.

Joining us now the Kiviti family, Roee, Adiel and their children, Kessem and Lev, who are all with us this morning.


Good to have you here.


HILL: So, for a lot of folks, this is -- this is probably confusing to them, and I know it was to you, because you went through the same process with your son in 2016. No hiccup. No hurdle.

What changed?

ADIEL KIVITI, SUING STATE DEPARTMENT FOR DENYING DAUGHTER CITIZENSHIP: Yes, we're not sure. We were also pretty shocked when submitting our application and getting the refusal.

As you mentioned, we were -- we went through this process before with no issues. It was in the previous -- under the previous State Department. And we were very confused and very devastating as well. HILL: And the law, it's our understanding, has not changed in that


Initially, though, your application for your daughter was approved.

R. KIVITI: Well, our -- our daughter applied for a passport, we applied for her, right after she was born. We went into the passport office. We submitted our application. And then immediately, and this did not happen with our son, they wrote with a red marker on the application "surrogacy" because we were two men, and then we were forced to sit there for an hour after different sex couple after different sex couple walked up, did the exact same procedure and walked away. And we had to sit there through that sort of humiliation, if you will. And that was really frustrating. It was -- it was -- and then when we got the rejection letter, it was sort of the punch in the gut, if you will.

HILL: So -- and -- and just clear this up for me. So you said you went up there and this didn't happen with your son, but they wrote "surrogate" or "surrogacy" on your daughter's application and then you mentioned that other couples came up after you. Were they also -- did they also have a child that was born via surrogate?

R. KIVITI: It wasn't clear to us.


R. KIVITI: This is a passport office.

HILL: Yes.

R. KIVITI: So everybody comes. But I'm saying other -- other couples came up after us and it took two minutes and they left.

HILL: So you're now part of a lawsuit. We know that this is the fourth lawsuit, as I understand it, against the State Department policy. A federal judge actually ruled in favor, of course, of another same-sex couple in February, and then the State Department appealed. Where do things stand for you right now?

A. KIVITI: Well, so we submitted our lawsuit last week and we're basically in a state of waiting, hearing -- hearing what State Department has to say. You know, we are trying to, you know, keep on living our daily life

and trying to -- we have two kids under three in our house so --

HILL: That's no small feat.

A. KIVITI: No, it's challenging. And it's just like another layer of anxiety which is -- it's really unnecessary. I mean it's very -- it's very upsetting. It's very nerve-racking to be in a scenario where we need to fight for our family. We need to fight for our marriage. We need to fight for this. I mean we are parents. We are -- we've been married for six years. And the last thing that would have imagined to do is, you know, being here on TV and not like, you know, taking those kids to the playground and like enjoying, you know, being parents. R. KIVITI: And I want to say, you know, we were there the moment she

was born. We were the first people who held her. She first cried in our arms. We gave her her first feeding, her first bath. She first slept on our chests, skin to skin. We are the only parents she's ever know. We are her only parents. We know what a family is. The law is clear on what a family is.

But we filed this suit on my parents' 52nd wedding anniversary. They raised five kids. They taught us what family is. It's clear to everyone, apparently except for the State Department. And I would urge Secretary Pompeo to fix this in a second. It can be fixed.

HILL: What else have you been told besides the fact that she's born out of wedlock? Is that the only reason they're giving you?

A. KIVITI: Essentially, yes, this is the reason. They don't recognize us as a family. They don't recognize our children as born to us. They are not recognized each of us as the parent of both of our children. Even though, you know, those children were born into this marriage. Those children have two parents. We are the only parents that they have since they were born on their birth certificate. You know, we're a family. We are parents. And we're both U.S. citizens. This scenario is just cruel.

R. KIVITI: And the Supreme Court has already ruled on same-sex marriage, that we're supposed to get all of the benefits. You know, what's the point of giving us -- recognizing our right to marry if you're not going to recognize the families that we create with that marriage.

HILL: So, Kessem, as we mentioned, we know she was born in Canada via surrogate. She's here, obviously, with you, sitting there on your lap, but she's here on a tourist visa and that's set to expire pretty soon. What happens at that point?

R. KIVITI: It is. And, you know, that's really unsettling. Every parent wants to give their child security for today and assurances for tomorrow. And this policy isn't letting us do that. And, you know, we have to explain to our kids their story. We're very confident of all of the people that were involved to bring them into this world, all of the people who, in a very loving way, helped us build this family.


And this is going to be part of their story. We're confident that the law is on our side and that we will, indeed, win this, not just on behalf of our daughter and our family, but on behalf of all American families across the country.

HILL: Well, we will continue to follow the case.

Roee, Adiel, we appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you.

A. KIVITI: Thank you.

BERMAN: Oh, look at those kids. HILL: Aren't' they adorable?

BERMAN: Adorable. They have their hands full, to say the least, (INAUDIBLE).

HILL: They really do. I mean, also two kids under three. Whoo, we remember those days.

BERMAN: All right, we are following breaking news on many fronts, including the largest strike among auto workers in more than a decade. CNN's breaking news coverage continues right after this.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Good Monday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.



It is Monday morning. But for nearly 50,000 members of the UAW, the work week will have to wait. As of midnight last night